Drunk driving fatalities were on the decline in 2010, with 32 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico all reporting fewer deaths, according to new data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But the feds are still concerned about the 10,228 people killed in alcohol-related accidents.

NHTSA is launching a new ad campaign, called "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over," to help a nationwide crackdown on drunk driving this holiday season. We've got the first TV commercial after the jump, and it's, well, creepy. "Night Ends For These Buddies" features a group of clearly intoxicated men getting busted while driving home from the bar, but the unnerving thing about the commercial is the ghostly appearance of uniformed police officers. The transparent cops are meant to convey the idea that "they'll see you before you see them" – the scare-tactic message NHTSA wants to get across – but they also bring to mind police officers that were killed in the line of duty by drunk drivers.

Drunk driving is said to account for one out of every three traffic deaths, and it's as serious a subject as there is. Which is why we wonder whether these ad campaigns are the right tactic? It seems like the "crackdown" on drunk driving has achieved furniture-store-sale levels of permanence in our society, and if we're really serious about eliminating drunk driving there are other ways to go about keeping drunks off the roads.


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U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces
"Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" Crackdown on Drunk Driving



New Research Shows Major Drop in Drunk Driving Fatalities in Many States

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today kicked off a nationwide crackdown on drunk driving coinciding with the 2011 winter holiday season. New data show drunk driving deaths declined in 2010 in many parts of the country. However, the data also show that fatalities from alcohol-impaired driving crashes continue to account for one in three deaths on American roadways each year.

"Safety is our focus year round at DOT. But this holiday season, we're stepping up our efforts to get drunk drivers off our roads and reminding Americans 'drive sober, or get pulled over,'" said Secretary LaHood. "We're making gains in our fight against drunk driving, but we cannot and will not let up."

New state-by-state data for 2010 released by the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show a decline in drunk driving fatalities in 32 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Compared with 2009, California and Florida saw the largest reductions-with each declining by more than 100 fatalities last year.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have outlawed driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Yet NHTSA data show that last year, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, including 415 during the second half of December alone.

The education and enforcement effort is the latest push in the Department's "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign involving thousands of law enforcement agencies across the country. The winter holiday enforcement crackdown is supported by a $7 million national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over advertisement campaign that runs from December 16 through January 2. The ads, which first premiered this past summer, feature "invisible" law enforcement officers observing alcohol-impaired individuals and then apprehending them when they attempt to drive their vehicles. The ads are designed to raise awareness and support law enforcement activities in every state. They convey the message that law enforcement officers are vigilant in deterring drunk drivers.

"Thanks to the hard work of law enforcement and safety advocates and the incredible commitment of organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, we are making real progress in reducing drunk driving deaths," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "Our message to drivers is clear: if you decide to drink, find a safe and sober ride home or you will be pulled over."

Secretary LaHood and NHTSA Administrator Strickland were joined for today's announcement by Virginia law enforcement officials and Jan Withers, National President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

"The data clearly show that while drunk driving remains the primary threat to American families on our roadways, we have a path to progress," said Withers. "Increased enforcement efforts around the holidays are a vital part of MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®, which relies on proven drunk driving countermeasures to eliminate the leading cause of highway fatalities."


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  • 20 Comments
      Maxximtl
      • 3 Years Ago
      Punishment really isn't a deterrent. Depending on the state, repeat DUI offenders account for 10--60% of total DUI arrests. These people have a disease.....they aren't just driving drunk, they do EVERYTHING drunk. Rational thought and being able to link cause and effect just doesn't happen for alcoholics.
        LUSTSTANG S-197
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Maxximtl
        10 to 60% It doesn't sound like they have much of a clue if the margin is that wide. I do agree with much of your post. They keep stiffening penalties for first time offenders, and I am not sure that's the right way to tackle the issue. I think most people learn their lesson the first time, but I feel many of them are taking the fall for the folks who have a serious problem. I agree that punishment is not much of a deterrent for those folks who have a serious drinking problem. But hey, the thought of "cracking down" makes for good headlines. Beyond that, I don't think it does much in the way of addressing the issue of repeat offenders. For many of those folks, even not having a license isn't a deterrent.
      lostboyz
      • 3 Years Ago
      As someone who was hit by a drunk driver and couldn't walk for 6 months, this is offensive. You shouldn't do it because you can kill people, not because you'll get in trouble. It's not a speeding ticket, it's life and death. If you can afford to go out and drink you can afford a cab.
        MotionDesigner
        • 3 Years Ago
        @lostboyz
        You need to understand that the possibility of going to jail is a bigger incentive for people to not drive drunk than the possibility of hitting and injuring someone else. It's a sad reality but that's just the way it is.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @lostboyz
        [blocked]
        cervantesmx
        • 3 Years Ago
        @lostboyz
        I completely agree with your statement. Well said.
        AP1_S2K
        • 3 Years Ago
        @lostboyz
        good one LBz.... well said.
        J W
        • 3 Years Ago
        @lostboyz
        People are selfish. These commercials need to appeal to their way of life to have a better shot at convincing them. I can see people making changes due to how it'll effect their life over some other persons life.
          lostboyz
          • 3 Years Ago
          @J W
          People also never think they will get caught. What does work, is knowing the very real consequences that affect people other than yourself. My boss and other people have asked me for pictures from my accident to give to their kids, it works wonders. Showing them how much money/time it could cost them isn't going to prevent anything. Knowing you could kill someone (or be killed) and end up in prison with your life basically ruined is far more convincing.
      Just Stuff
      • 3 Years Ago
      Make a minumum of 1 year jail time for 1 offense and go upwards from there depending on the count and any lives/property damage they did.
        Howard
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Just Stuff
        while i agree that drunk driving is dangerous and a terrible thing to do. people make mistakes and 1 year jail time for a first offense is ridiculous. the nations jail systems are horribly overcrowded and wasting tax payer money. in california, the DUI law is actually up to the officer who pulled you over if i remember correctly, meaning if you blow a "legal" 0.08, you can still go to jail if the officer decides to be a jerk. oh and did i mention...most of the drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs were ended and most counties rely on DUI arrests as a revenue source. so much for protecting the citizens right?
          LUSTSTANG S-197
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Howard
          Don't be so naive desinerd1, Relying on this as a source of revenue the way they do is not good. That spells trouble because if everyone were to not drink and drive, that revenue would consequently dry up, and they would have to find some other way to get people in trouble, all under the guise of "your safety" of course. I think it's safe to say they know people will always take the risk and like the revenue it generates.
        LUSTSTANG S-197
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Just Stuff
        That's a little stiff, don't you think? What makes you think society would be any safer with that many lives completely turned up side down? For the vast majority, a simple fine, and maybe losing their license for 30 days would be punishment enough. Throwing them in jail would simply be overkill, not to mention the cost of housing all of those new inmates who really are not a threat to society. In the end, that would likely create a lot more desperate people, which is never a good thing for obvious reasons.
      Kyle
      • 3 Years Ago
      Legalize Cannabis, reduce drunk driving rates.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well, due to recent votes by congress, we are living in a big brother police state, so i'd say this is being pretty honest on the federal government's part to put an ad out like this.
      Bryant Keith
      • 3 Years Ago
      what makes me giggle is that they make a big deal out of 10k deaths from alcohol when 112k die each year from obesity related illnesses. How about we arrest people leaving micky ds
        AP1_S2K
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Bryant Keith
        it's not the bars, alcohol company, or fast food that causes drunk driving and fat a**'s. It's a society that doesn't pride itself on taking personal responsibility for themselves or what they might end up doing to another.
      Eric G
      • 3 Years Ago
      I will start off my comment by saying that drunk drivers are some of the most selfish people, along with cell phone talkers, to drive on the road. Purposely putting innocent people at risk for no good reason is ridiculously immature. Now onto the commercial: I actually saw one of these tonight on SpikeTV. I think its a terrible commercial. It shows the cops as soldiers. Its like we live in a police state. It makes me feel that no one actually has any freedom, and that we are constantly watched. I feel as though its a really poor choice for a commercial. No one is going to care for this commercial. It wont save any lives, just properly educating people and not treating them below you will help low drunk driving stats.
        ksrcm
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Eric G
        " Its like we live in a police state. It makes me feel that no one actually has any freedom, and that we are constantly watched." Well, as long as the 4th gets suspended at will without any backlash, you DO live in a police state. You do know that oldie-goldie-true-to-USSR road blocks exist and the "probable cause" to stop any motorist they please is being 1st weekend of September (or last weekend in May)? The problem is that nothing holds water (not even the Constitution itself) in the front of the majority mob. At that point, does it really matter that something was decided by majority or at a whim of some dictator? I hardly see any difference if superior law of the land doesn't and cannot hold.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
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